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Eating in FlorenceEating in FlorencePeople ask me all the time where to eat in Florence, the city I call home. Recently someone blogged about ten places to eat incredibly well in Florence. I disagreed with most choices. And found the list somewhat simplistic, impressed with trendy Michelin-starred places, not really what a ...
Il CipressoI don’t know what took me so long to get to Ristorante Il Cipresso in Loro Ciuffenna. It’s one of those places that flies under the radar, not in most guidebooks, but for me, worth a voyage. Superstar butcher Dario Cecchini, my Tuscan brother, took me there for dinner, along ...
HomepageCarissimi, I know. I ignored my website and it got stale. I piled pieces I’d written in disorganized lists in my Italian regional files. Magazines closed and their websites changed. The places that I wrote for with pleasure mostly disappeared. I looked around and wasn’t thrilled with the print world. ...
Outside my front doorThe Left Bank of FlorenceI live in the Oltrarno (beyond the Arno, the un-Duomo side of the river--think Left Bank), near piazza Santo Spirito, my favorite piazza in Florence. Unfortunately, restaurants directly in the piazza are a sad story. Caffe' Ricchi has changed hands and although I still love to ...
new season....of tomatoes!Just back to a new season, with tomatoes... I've been away from home, in California for two weeks, and came back to a delivery from my favorite farmers, the Innocenti brothers, featuring a new season of produce. In addition to beets, cucumbers, spring onions, zucchini with flowers and basil, which were ...
Taste 2010 - Part 2I knew the fair would be impossible to navigate on Sunday and focused on Fuori di Taste events. In the afternoon I visited Carapina's new shop, and tasted gelato made with Mieli Thun's superb honey, then tasted a spoonful of crystallized ivy honey, complex, evolving flavors. I went to an ...
Taste 2010Taste is the one of the most exciting food fairs in Italy. It's in my home town of Florence in the Stazione Leopolda, an ex-railroad station, a most beautiful space. For three days well-chosen producers offer an array of culinary jewels, house wares, books, with round table discussions on important ...
Superstar Chef LunchIt's a tradition that started a few years ago, with lots of chef friends in town for the presentation of the Espresso restaurant and wine guides. Raffaele Alajmo reserved two places at my table, brought magnums of Champagne, invited a few friends, I made lunch, and everyone had a good ...
Best New Product at TASTEI love the event Taste, a gastronomic fair with quality food, wine and table products, held in the beautiful "Stazione Leopolda", ex-railway station, with off-site events at restaurants, shops and wine-bars throughout the city of Florence. The fair is small enough to walk through in few hours, and there's a ...
Biscottificio MatteiThe most famous cookies in Tuscany are called "cantucci" or "cantuccini", golden, crisp, studded with whole almonds, most often served with a glass of Vin Santo dessert wine for sipping or dipping. In the Florence area they're known as "biscotti di Prato", probably since the greatest version of this cookie ...
Agriturismo La PetraiaLa Petraia is one of the most beautiful agriturismo farms in Italy, tucked away in an unspoiled corner of Tuscany in the Chianti Classico area. The stone farm house dates from the 11th century (check out the archival prints in the living room documenting the history of this ancient property) ...
'inoI'm wild about 'ino, a gastronomic gem--gourmet grocery meets sandwich shop, in Florence, between the Uffizi gallery and the Arno river. Owner Alessandro Frassica has selected some of Italy's greatest artisanal products. The display case in the front room is packed with choice Italian cheese (many raw milk) including 36-month ...
Florentine Gelato CrawlBeginning with Bernardo Buontalenti, Mannerist architect, military engineer, theatrical set designer and supposed inventor of churned-over-ice milk-based gelato for the court of Francesco de' Medici in 1565, Florentines have always taken gelato seriously. But there are many inferior shops, with signs declaring "produzione propria" or "produzione artigianale", where gelato is ...
The Emperor's New ClothesFabio Picchi has always been my favorite chef-restaurateur in Florence and he's created an empire in the Sant'Ambrogio area. His restaurant Cibreo, trattoria Cibreino, bar, and private club, Teatro del Sale serve some the city's best food, at prices that range from expensive (Cibreo) to bargain (Teatro del Sale). Membership ...
DarioI love to visit Dario Cecchini, Italy's most famous butcher. His shop in Panzano in Chianti has always been a hang-out for food-lovers from all over the world, who come for a taste of his Chianti "butter" (ground fat-back and herbs), Cosimino (named after the Medici, meatloaf meets huge meatball), Chianti ...
Le Chiave d’Oro and Hotel PatioI've got two new reasons to visit Arezzo, as if one of my favorite frescoes in Italy wasn't enough. The restaurant "Le Chiave d'Oro" is in Palazzo De'Bacci, built by the family who commissioned Piero della Francesca's frescoes "The Legend of the True Cross" in 1452 at the church in ...
Olympian SeafoodDining at Bagno Olimpia, in Cecina Marina.A friend recommended I try a restaurant on the Tuscan coast that is part of a beach club, and although I was a bit skeptical (after all, bathing facilities are not known for fine food) I fell in love. Ristorante Olimpia doesn't look like ...
Bittersweet in TuscanyTwo Tuscan chocolatiers.Tuscans like their flavors full bodied. Here olive oil is preferred nuovo - fresh from the local mill, peppery, and raw. The everyday wine, Sangiovese, is a red that's austere, earthy, and bold compared to a French Cabernet. And when it comes time for chocolate, Tuscans also crave ...
The Good Lardo of ColonnataLardo from Colonnata and dining at da Venanzio.I've just returned from the village of Colonnata, in the mountains above Carrara near the Tuscan coast, an area well-known for its marble quarries, but worth a gastronomic pilgrimage for those who love lardo.Not to be confused by English speakers with lard (called ...
Springtime Fava RightsSpringtime fava beans and pecorino.I know it's really spring when I spot farmers at the market selling large, lumpy, bright green pods - fava beans, fave in Italian. In most regions Italians cook fava beans. I'm in love when someone makes me a labor-intensive, but delicious, braised vegetable stew, a ...
Fruit Catalogs, c.1700The paintings of Bartolomeo Bimbi, C.1700.I'm crazy about the paintings of Bartolomeo Bimbi. Born in 1648, outside Florence in Settignano, he apprenticed with artists in Florence and Rome, then returned home to work in a studio that turned out flower paintings. The ruling Medici, Cosimo III, hired Bimbi to work ...